Doha has adopted an unwavering stance in the face of Islamophobia globally, being one of the few to stand with utmost intolerance towards anti-religious hate crimes.
A top Qatari official has called out the double standard approach towards Islamophobia in Europe, following a string of controversial incidents involving the burning of copies of the Quran.
In a speech at the UN Human Rights Council’s urgent debate on public acts of incitement to religious hatred, Qatar’s outspoken Minister of State for International Cooperation Lolwah Al Khater pointed towards the “puzzling” lack of accountability regarding religion-based hate speech, especially against Muslims, despite legislations in favour of other minorities being easily approved.
“We remain puzzled by the opposition that some countries expressed to stopping religion-based hate speech especially against Muslims, while they themselves introduce new legislations and statements every day defending new self-defined minorities,” maintained Qatar’s Minister of State for International Cooperation Lolwah Al Khater.
“By the same token STOP ISLAMOPHOBIA.”
The stances of certain European governments in allowing and enabling the repetition of such incidents based on legal arguments surrounding freedom of speech and individual rights has prompted many to point out the double standard approach to state condemnation of religious hate crimes.
“As for the position of some European governments towards facilitating and even enabling the recurrence of such incidents with legal claims related to the discourse of freedoms and individual rights, we stand bewildered.”
“There has been accumulated evidence from far and wide that this criterion is nothing but selective. These countries strictly prohibit by legislation or custom, for example but not limited to, anti-Semitic speech and acts,” she said.
Al Khater expressed her confusion, saying that the accumulation of these incidents, which have been undertaken by people from various backgrounds, raises concerns about the inconsistency prevalent in the approach taken by these countries.
While these nations strictly prohibit any form of legislative measures, speech, or acts that promote anti-Semitism, among others, it remains puzzling that a similar level of scrutiny is not applied to these instances such as evident Islamophobic acts, she added.
“There has been accumulated evidence from far and wide that this criterion is nothing but selective. These countries strictly prohibit by legislation or custom, for example but not limited to, anti-Semitic speech and acts.”
Her speech was delivered through a recorded statement addressing the concerning increase in deliberate and public acts of religious hatred, specifically referring to the repeated desecration of the Holy Quran in certain European and other countries.
She said these countries same countries place great emphasis on scrutinising religious minorities within predominantly Muslim nations, highlighting how every issue affecting even a single individual from these communities is amplified.
Al Khater said critics then hold the governments of these Muslim-majority states accountable and demand prompt changes, even if such actions are not systematically endorsed by authorities on the ground.
“Many of these countries also operate a magnifying glass on religious minorities in Muslim-majority countries, through which they exaggerate every matter that happens to any of the private individuals, and hold the governments of these countries responsible demanding change, even if it is not a systematic act approved by the governments.”
She added Islamic states and communities refrain from reciprocating, not out of fear of potential retaliation from those governments, but due to their commitment to their beliefs and laws rooted in Islamic values.
“I stress that we, Muslim countries and communities, cannot do the same, not for fear of the attack that would have targeted us from those same governments,” Al Khater said in the context of governments justifying and enabling hate speech against Muslims in their respective countries.
“Rather, this comes in compliance with our convictions and laws and before them our Islamic values.”
She emphasised that Qatar views the promotion of human rights, fundamental freedoms, and the rejection of hate speech and discrimination based on religion as a responsibility of both individual states and international institutions.
Al Khater further echoed Qatar’s call for governments to fulfill obligations outlined in the United Nations Charter, which advocates for cultivating amicable relations among nations based on respect for the principle of settling disputes peacefully and upholding human rights and fundamental freedoms for all individuals.
She also urged countries where such practices occur to take national measures to combat them, hold the perpetrators accountable, and prevent their repetition in the future.
“Qatar condemns in the strongest terms the incidents of burning copies of the Holy Quran that have deliberately occurred in an number of European countries recently.. No reasonable impartial observer can help but see that behind these incidents there are agendas that deliberately sow hatred and discord among Muslims and other members of their communities,” the official said.
“We stress the importance of taking a clear position by the Human Rights Council and its mechanisms, by condemning all forms of racism and hate speech against religions and their followers and preventing their recurrence,” she added.
Qatar takes lead in diplomatic response
Doha has also long been at the forefront of vocalising its refusal of any form of hatred and “insulting” remarks against Islam, constantly maintaining that ‘vile incidents’ against the religion is an act of incitement and a serious provocation to the feelings of more than two billion Muslims in the world.
Qatar has adopted an unwavering stance in the face of Islamophobia around the globe, being one of the few governments to stand with utmost intolerance towards anti-religious hate crimes.
Speaking to Doha News in June, Dr Farhan Chak, Associate Professor of Political Science at Qatar University highlighted Doha’s strong leadership role in the region.
By coming forward Qatar “says to the whole world that look we are part of the international community, we are part of the world as well, we have our values as well [which] may not coincide with other people’s values and we have every right to protect our values and we have every right to respond when those values are ridiculed, when those holy personalities are targeted,” Chak said.
The speech comes following a long and reoccurring chain of horrifying incidents in which copies of the holy Quran were burned in different parts of Europe, sparking outrage across the Muslim world and leading the Gulf country to respond.
Most recently, an Iraqi migrant desecrated the holy book before lighting it on fire. The incident occurred outside a mosque in Stockholm on the first day of Eid Al Adha late June, triggering widespread condemnation among Muslims worldwide.
Local police had greenlighted the burning of the book, approving an application by the perpetrator prior to the incident.
Since then, Swedish authorities said they received three new applications seeking permission to burn religious texts amid a mounting controversy over the country’s freedom of speech laws.